Want to Know More About Machine Learning and AI?

Wondering whether you should invest in AI and Machine Learning? That’s a question that the most innovative companies are considering. Why consider it? One good reason is because your competitors have already started. If that doesn’t give you some reason to get motivated, I hope you get started before you are put out of business. To make sure that doesn’t happen, there are  a few things to consider to help you start to explore an investment in machine learning.

It’s the Data, Stupid

Of course, as with any business initiative, you’ll want to create value. And this can be done using machine learning systems. But for those systems to provide value, companies will need to begin by evaluating their organization’s data maturity, but more importantly their readiness to accomplish its data-driven goals. Company’s need to start with an audit of their data warehousing, data scientific research capabilities, data governance and data hygiene. In addition, it’s important to look at the sources, uses, volume, and veracity of all your date, meaning your first-, second-, and third-party data.

Garbage in, Garbage Out

Why is making sure your data so clean? Machine learning is basically taking a computer and making it smart enough to learn from the data it’s fed. We are essentially programming machines to learn. The goal is that after a certain point of time, the computer is able to predict further data. How so? Let’s pretend you want to make your computer predict the weather. So to begin, you might feed the computer weather reports of every hour of every over the past year. What you might end up with is– because the temperature (z) depends on day of the year (x) as well as the time of the day (y), more than two-dimensional curve. In fact, weather is random, so the equation generated by the computer won’t just have 3 variables (x, y, z), it may also have higher powers. So depending on the number of factors in a prediction and the randomness of the outcome, the complexity of the curve can increasingly get more complicated.

So back to the data… And I know you know the story about data: garbage in, garbage out. So hopefully, now you see can why good, clean data is so important to prediction. As the computer is taking the data you feed it to make future predictions, those predictions dependent on the data you are feeding it. So you want the very best data possible. And it takes super computers which are capable of handling large volumes of data, as well as the ability to learn fast and to make fast decisions based on the learning it under goes.

AI and ML Are Not The Same

Often times Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are used interchangeably. But they are actually different. Artificial Intelligence is the broader concept of machines being able to carry out tasks in a way that we would consider “smart.” Machine Learning is the application of AI based on the idea that we should be able to give machines access to data and let them learn for themselves. Artificial Intelligence devices (devices designed to act intelligently), are often classified into one of two groups: 1) applied and 2) general.

Applied AI is far more common. Applied AI is about systems designed to intelligently trade stocks and shares or drive an autonomous vehicle. Generalized AI is may up of systems or devices that, in theory, can handle any task. And are less common. However, this is where some of the most exciting advancements are happening today.

Deep Learning is A New Area of Machine Learning Research

It was introduced with the objective of moving Machine Learning closer to one of its original goals: that of being Artificial Intelligence. So essentially Deep Learning is a subfield of machine learning concerned with the algorithms inspired by the structure and function of the brain called artificial neural networks. Deep learning has worked it’s way into business language via Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data and analytics. Deep learning is an approach to AI which shows great promise when it comes to developing the autonomous, self-teaching systems which are revolutionizing many industries.

The Two Big Ideas: It May Be Possible To Teach Computers to Learn and The Internet is a Source of a Ton of Data

Arthur Samuel, in 1959 is credited as the one who came up with the big idea that it might be possible to teach computers to learn for themselves. That would be in contrast to teaching computers everything they need to know about the world and how to carry out tasks. The second big idea was that the Internet, with huge increase in the amount of digital information being generated, stored and could be used for analysis. So the scientists and engineers realized it would be far more efficient to code computers to think like human beings, and then plug them into the internet to give them access to all of the information in the world.

Neural Networks Are Algorithms

Neural networks are a set of algorithms, modeled loosely after the human brain and designed to recognize patterns. The development of neural networks has been key to teaching computers to think and understand the world in the way we do, in addition to the innate advantages they hold over people such as speed, accuracy and lack of bias. So a Neural Network is a computer system that classifies information in the same way a human brain does. It can be taught to recognize, for example, images, and classify them according to elements they contain. It works on a system of probability – which means that based on data it’s fed, it is able to make statements, decisions or predictions with a degree of certainty. The addition of a feedback loop enables “learning” – by sensing or being told whether its decisions are right or wrong and then can modify the approach it takes in the future.

What Can Machine Learning Applications Do?

Machine Learning applications can read text and work out whether the person who wrote it is making a complaint or offering congratulations. They can also listen to a piece of music, decide whether it is likely to make someone happy or sad, and find other pieces of music to match the mood. They can even compose their own music expressing the same themes, or which they know is likely to be appreciated by the admirers of the original piece.

These are all possibilities offered by systems based around ML and neural networks. The idea is that we should be able to communicate and interact with electronic devices and digital information, as naturally as we would with another human being. And another field of AI – Natural Language Processing (NLP) – has become an exciting area of innovation in recent years, and one which is heavily reliant on machine learning. (And yes, my initials just happen to be NLP, but that doesn’t really mean anything… just a happy coincidence…)

Where is Used?

Take Google for instance. Google is using it in its voice and image recognition algorithms. It is also used by Netflix and Amazon to decide what you want to watch or buy next. And it is also being by researchers at MIT to predict the future.  While Machine Learning is often described as a sub-discipline of AI, we might look at Machine Learning as the state-of-the-art of AI. Why? Perhaps because it is showing the greatest promise to provide tools that industry and society can use to drive change.

More on the practical uses of AI and ML in the future. For now, noodle on that!

@drnatalie

VP, Program Executive, Innovation and Transformation Center

 

 

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Guest Post: 5 Loyalty Languages to Boost Brand Loyalty

In the age of instant gratification, brand loyalty is not what it used to be: Today, you can get your groceries delivered straight to your home, request a ride across town via Uber or Lyft, and turn to a service like Amazon Prime to bring nearly anything else you want to your doorstep.

Indeed, our culture has grow so accustomed to relying on technology for just about anything that many people are quick to jump ship and move on to the next trendy app or service if it promises better convenience and service. While customers stand to benefit due to strategies developed by such forward-thinking companies, this proverbial arms race is causing brands to completely reconsider how to craft messaging and marketing initiatives.

Business strategy experts at Accenture recently conducted a study on this very subject in order to identify the latest strategies to reach customers in our digital age. Here are the five loyalty languages that Accenture experts found to be the most effective at establishing brand loyalty.

Tailor Your Approach

Customers value companies that can custom-tailor the shopping experience for them. Whether it’s deciding between a pair of custom-designed Vans or Nike sneakers or a monogrammed handbag from Madewell or Longchamp, customers appreciate the option to make a product their own — and this appreciation tends to yield brand loyalty.

Customers also value brands that communicate with them through their preferred social media channels. This is why it’s so crucial to use a broad range of social media and marketing initiatives to get your message to your customers in a manner that establishes convenience and loyalty.

If your company struggles to manage effective customer service, consider using a cloud contact center that offers workforce management software. This can help your company to stay in contact with customers 24/7 — from virtually any location — to better track their wants and needs.

Offer Rewards

Accenture’s research noted that nearly 60 percent of consumers feel loyal to brands as a result of being offered rewards for their patronage. Receiving free gift cards and promotional discounts with a purchase are strategies that have proven effective for creating brand loyalty.

While you may view these rewards as an expensive undertaking, it’s actually a short-sighted way of looking at the issue. Instead of focusing on the cost of offering rewards, think of how much more business you’ll enjoy over time by sending small tokens of appreciation to customers when they least expect it.

Provide an Experience

Millennials in particular value new experiences over “things.” To effectively reach this market, you can invite customers to co-create with your brand as well as assist and inspire the design of your products and services. By eliciting customer feedback and putting it into action, you can build loyalty by showing customers that their opinions matter to you.

Partner with Influencers

Today’s consumers also appreciate companies that aim to model the same behavior and charisma made popular in pop culture. One highly effective way to build brand loyalty is to partner with social media influencers and celebrities who your audience idolizes. An estimated 23 percent of survey respondents in Accenture’s research noted that they tend to remain loyal to brands that partner with celebrities and social media influencers.

Share Your Connections

Finally, trying to operate in a silo — and not always thinking outside the box — could be a detriment to your business. Partnering with other non-competing brands that attract a similar customer base is a great way to reach new consumers. It’s also a show of good faith to your current customers to connect them with other useful products and services that can make their lives a little easier.

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Guest Post: How to Run Your Business Exclusively in the Cloud

Choosing to move your business exclusively to the cloud isn’t just a matter of being in good company, as a majority of organizations start making the shift. Working in the cloud, though, will also become the norm for your clients, who are accustomed to doing everything from holding meetings to managing projects with cloud-based tools. Now, moving to the cloud doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are five ways to leverage the cloud to benefit your business.

Back Up Your Data

Data loss due to hardware failure, hacking or human error are pervasive threats for any small business. Don’t leave yourself open to data vulnerabilities and profit loss. Set the standard for safety and organization by creating a data backup policy. Instead of relying on your own team to back up data and perform test restorations, outsource it to a third-party cloud provider.

A service like Mozy offers varied pricing for small businesses and enterprise companies alike to protect valuable workplace data, while helping to grow their business. Mozy also allows users to create an automated backup schedule to keep their data safe and ready to restore when needed.

Dominate Your Marketing Game

Marketers have long used the cloud to create and schedule social media posts with tools like Buffer. But creating podcasts in the cloud can also raise awareness for your business and attract new customers. According to a survey from Edison Research, fans of podcasts listen to an average of five on-demand presentations per week. As podcasts grow in popularity, they represent untapped opportunity to market to new audiences who are looking for business advice, insights and non-traditional entertainment.

Small-business owners can use podcasts with tools like Skype to interview guests and Audacity to edit their audio. These podcasts can be used to promote your products and/or interview delighted customers. Speaking directly to your target market every week can also quickly build credibility and trust to expand your marketing efforts.

Onboard Virtual Employees

Finding employees on sites like UpWork and Guru.com is the easy part. Figuring out how to onboard and train employees so they can immediately jump into their new roles isn’t always an intuitive process. Give new hires a face-to-face welcome with cloud-based tools through video chat or a group meeting with services like Redbooth.

Next, give your new employees access to online project management tools like Google Docs and Asana to help outline their responsibilities. But, unlike employees who physically work in the office, virtual employers tend to miss out on the social aspects that a traditional workplace affords. Looking for ways to make these employees feel like a bigger part of the team? Combat the negative side effects of isolation with weekly checkins to keep your employees engaged with your business and their work.

Collaborate Online

Cut down time spent on project management and collaborate online instead. There’s no need to schedule in-person or video meetings with employees and freelancers. Instead, use a cloud-based collaborative tool like Trello to set up a visual dashboard that will help to better manage your projects. Assign teams to specific tasks, upload images and videos, and stay in touch on project deadlines without leaving the Trello system.

Meantime, Slack offers users the ability to conduct real-time messaging and upload projects as well as stay on task and maintain their productivity. Through Slack, workplace teams get a completely transparent view of a project from start to finish and can make calls right from the platform to ask questions or follow up on a task.

Let Clients Find You

Working exclusively in the cloud makes it easier to find clients and start earning revenue immediately. Creating a company profile on LinkedIn is just the first step. Next, use LinkedIn’s publishing platform as another avenue to post your company’s content marketing pieces in order to directly target your next dream client.

Optimize your website to attract clients with videos explaining your services and products, offer unique content to prospects in exchange for their contact information, and routinely host an industry podcast. But there are other ways to find clients when they need you most. For example, expanding your reach by signing up as a consultant on a site like Guru.com can also help put you in front of clients who need you most.

Deciding whether to run your business in the cloud shouldn’t even be a debate. But finding the right tools and processes to help run your business can overwhelm even the best of decision-makers. Start by focusing on the tools you need most and expand as your company grows.

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Guest Post: Increase Your Social Media Engagement with These Proven Strategies

How-to-Create-a-Brand-Identity-Using-Social-Media-04

There is no question that social media has earned its spot in every business’ digital marketing strategy. The rise of social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn have forever shaped the way users express themselves online.

Nowadays, almost every business has some type of social media account. 83% of fortune 500 companies have a presence on Twitter and over 3 million companies have LinkedIn profiles. However, simply having a social media account and posting content is not enough. What makes the difference between good brands and great brands on social is not only the quality of content, but also the level of interaction and engagement they devote to their audience. Are you replying back to users who comment on your photos? Do you regularly like trending posts within your industry? Have you developed an online personality for your brand?

Follow these guaranteed strategies and you’ll be well on your way to connecting with your target audience and increasing engagement on all of your social media platforms.

Facebook

4 million likes are generated by Facebook users every minute.

Liking is one of the most important aspects of social media. So hop on the bandwagon and click the thumbs up button! It’s important to like something when you see that it pertains to your business because you’re not only engaging with your industry, but you’re also connecting with accounts who share similar interests. Over time, social media platforms will start to see patterns in the content you’re liking and expose you to more related items. The great thing about Facebook is that if you have a particular reaction to a post, you can choose that instead of just thumbs up. Choose the laughing emoji when something is funny or the angry face when you’re upset. The important thing is when you react to a post, you begin to get filtered into a particular niche. What you discover in that niche is other users who belong there as well.

Those users are your target audience. So be friendly and say hi! Put a huge emphasis on liking content in your social media marketing strategy. Give users a like on their posts and explore what you have in common. These users will start to recognize your name and become familiar with your online presence. With one click and some curiosity, they could end up on your page! Don’t be stingy with likes, spread the love and watch it return back to you.

Instagram

Instagram generates over 3.5 billion likes a day and its usage has doubled in the last two years.

Much like Facebook, the way you’re able to connect with people through Instagram is by liking photos. Some users will exercise proper etiquette and like one of your photos in return for your like, but other times it just might not happen. That’s okay though, there’s no limit on the amount of posts you can like, so go ahead and double tap on posts that are relevant to your industry!

YouTube

100 million people take social action on YouTube every week in the form of likes, shares, or comments.

Commenting is just as important as liking for the same reason that you get to interact with your target audience and engage in your community. The difference with a comment versus a like is that you have the opportunity to communicate your unique perspective on a topic.

You can answer questions on trending posts, offer insight, or type something reactionary. This will help increase your engagement because users can actually see what you’re thinking.  They can go off on your ideas or like your comment in agreement with what you’ve said. Comments provide another opportunity for users to engage with your brand. Be social and leave a comment!

Twitter

500 million Tweets are sent every day, which translates, to 6,000 Tweets a second.

Twitter is all about the short and the sweet. Essentially, Twitter is a string of comments. The way you get your brand to increase engagement on Twitter is by participating in the never-ending dialogue. You can do this by liking, commenting, and most importantly, retweeting.

Twitter is a little different from other social platforms because it has a higher frequency of posts. According to Neil Patel (social media marketing maven and co-founder of KISSmetrics) the optimal amount to post on Twitter to increase engagement is 1 – 5 posts a day. Plan your posts beforehand or retweet other authorities within your industry. Keep up with the pace of Twitter so users can recognize your effort.

LinkedIn

The 14 most popular posts on LinkedIn are all about advice in the workplace.

LinkedIn is the platform business professionals go to in order to apply for an internship, look for a job, or expand the range of their professional network. What users are looking for on LinkedIn is the means to gain a better standing in their career. This can be in the form of acquiring a job or the knowledge to gain better skills. Your posts on LinkedIn should be about interesting water cooler topics professionals can read in their downtime. It’s perfectly acceptable to be on LinkedIn during work, so keep your content related to the workplace if you want to see engagement from this audience!

A Quick Recap

Social media marketing is genuinely about being social on the screen. If your brand is

participating in the social aspect of each platform, you will begin to see engagement rise because your account is active. It’s important to keep that part of social media in mind because it shows your followers you understand how to use their media! Let’s Recap:

  • Facebook – Like posts that are related to your industry
  • Instagram – Double tap appropriate photos in your niche
  • YouTube – Provide insight, leave a comment
  • Twitter – Keep up with the pace of tweets
  • LinkedIn – Make it about the workplace

 

About Author:

therese

Therese Palmere is a passionate content writer at Aumcore. Aumcore is a New York based digital marketing agency offering solutions from creative social media campaigns to SEO and web design driven by results.

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Guest Post: Marketing To Individuals Online

For many companies who function predominantly online, face to face interactions with customers and clients seldom happen. Personal relationships are difficult to build when the individuals that your company targets are a demographic statistic rather a specific person with a smile and ambitions. So how can your company connect with individuals and form relationships that last when your business only has one brick and mortar store? Here’s a look at how your business can market to individuals and build the personal connections customers and clients crave.

iBeacons

iBeacons are a new technology that utilize a variant of Bluetooth technology called Bluetooth Low Energy or BLE. BLE lets your smartphone or other mobile device, like your Apple Watch Sport, communicate with other enabled devices over a short distance. It consumes considerably less battery than traditional Bluetooth, as its name implies. BLE uses are typically geared toward personalized advertisements. These are one-way transmissions from a beacon, like a computer that sends a message to a smartphone or other smart device.

What does this look like for a business? Let’s say a shopper strolls down the street, bag in hand. Suddenly their Apple Watch gives them a notification. The message you’ve set your iBeacon to communicate with mobile devices has appeared. For instance, if you have a vintage clothing boutique, you might program your message as, “Holiday sale, this weekend only, 20 percent off all items.” A moment later the potential customer walks into your shop and they already know why they want to enter your store.

Since most of your business is online, an iBeacon is a great way to make the physical interactions you have with customers count.

Online Communities

No matter what kind of business you have, your online presence is an essential part of your success. Build a community around your product or service with an online forum. A forum provides a communication hub for customers and clients. Many online forums serve community members in their search for knowledge when they trouble shoot a problem. Let the community you’ve created do part of the work for you in terms of customer support — and it’s a free work force. Of course, the most difficult part is getting this community started. Post exclusive information and materials on your forum, as this will make it an invaluable source of knowledge for your customers.

Personal Contact

This isn’t necessarily face to face, but you can certainly reach your target demographic in other ways. Increase your visibility with social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. Ask your customer or client base how you can serve them better. Listen. When those you serve see positive change come about from the input they’ve given, they will spread the word of your service. Never underestimate the impact of word of mouth, even if it’s online.

When you take customer input into account and make changes in how your business functions, let people know. A newsletter is worth the effort and reaches an audience that is less connected via social media. Include deals, information, customer success stories and updates to your business model. If these updates were brought about by a certain customer, give them credit or even feature them in the newsletter. This shows the recipients of the email how much you value input from those you serve.

 

About the Author

Alex Clark-McGlenn is a graduate of the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts Writer’s Workshop. His fiction has been published in the Best New Writing 2016 anthology, The Cost of Paper, Smokebox.net, and others. In his spare time he enjoys cycling, soccer, and reading. He lives the Pacific Northwest.

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Guest Post: 1202 Social Media Alone is Not Enough. Your Small Business Needs a “Big” Website

Social Media has truly been a game changer in how businesses connect with their customers. What used to be a cumbersome and expensive activity has been made very easy, but at the same time it has also become a constant battle for customer attention.

Social media has also helped the customers. It is much easier for them to connect with businesses. No longer do they have to rely on the traditional 1-800 number, enduring long hold times. They can simply post a question and then the business can answer them (within the same day hopefully). On the flip side, angry customers can post their scathing reviews for the world to see. Over all social media has really become a necessity for business if they want to stay valid in this world. And many businesses have been milking social media for all its worth, some even going as far as using it as a substitute for having a professional website. While social media is necessary for achieving success, especially for small businesses it can in no way substitute a business website. In order to truly milk social media, you have to pair it with a website.

Why do you need a big website along an efficient social media presence?

Recently Facebook added the sell feature on to pages, in short turning business pages into small business online stores. This feature again raised a slew of questions that why do we need a website anymore? You can even have a proper e-store running on a Facebook page. This question is especially asked by small businesses or start-ups who have limited budgets. Why should they put a strain on what are often shoe-string budgets to make a website, when they get almost the same level of functionality from a social media presence alone?

The market is not what it was 15 years ago

15 years back you could do without a website till you got to a level of financial success. However the market dynamics have considerably changed since then. Internet penetration in first world countries is especially at levels we had never nearly considered. And the speed at which the online world is expanding puts it a level where we can say that the virtual online world is one that exists in parallel of real one. It is that vast.

So if your business does not have a concrete presence in the online world then you do not appear as a credible business. Before we go anywhere, we Google it. If I only get Facebook page results, that makes your business look like an amateur set-up and makes it lose its credibility. Just like it is expected for a store to have a billboard, consumers expect businesses to have their own websites, just for the sake of contact details and address if not anything else.

Many years ago it used to be a shop front that served as the first impression of the establishment. Now it is the website that makes for the first impression. You need a good website to ensure you grab people’s interest and convert that interest into a sale.

A website is effectively your businesses own branch on the virtual world

You can put up your products up for sale on Facebook, but that is just like putting your products on some other store’s shelves. You cannot influence the environment of the store to shape customer experience. Your products are the mercy of someone else. You cannot control customer shopping experience on Facebook. Facebook even changes the themes when and as they wish. But a website is somewhere you are in full control and give the customer a shopping experience you feel would be the best way to market yourself. For example some e-stores do not opt for a traditional slider and go the “Tinder” way that is the customers view one product at a time.

Also a basic feature that having your own website gives you is recommending customers their next possible purchase, based on their present viewing history. This is something that you lose your products on social media.

Social media has also restrictions on photo sizes that you can upload. This may be a drawback as intricate details may be lost when you compress file size.

Also many people might not want to buy from Facebook, so not having a website means lost sales. And a website along with a brick and mortar store is the perfect combo. Your brick and mortar store gives the customers who want to “feel and buy” what they want and online customers get the feasibility of buying from wherever at whatever time they want.

A website is a business you control and shape

Unlike Facebook you are in complete control. How your business works in completely on you. Just like Facebook gives you a free “shelf” to display your products, businesses with successful e-commerce website have gone on to sell “shelves” on their websites. A website has a huge potential for revenue making and is only limited by your imagination. A small business gains by investing in a website as they gain the option of multiple income streams from one smart investment!

One last thing to mention is that it is very important you choose a professional company to do the development for you. This is because you might require after-sales services, and freelancers are not that reliable.

 

About the Author

Rachael Everly is an undergraduate student who loves to write on the topics related business, finance, technology and education. Follow @RachaelEverly for further updates

 

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Guest Post: How Digital Technology Is Transforming Customer Data Collection

Digital business is increasing the potential monetary value of data, but most companies aren’t leveraging this valuable resource. Smart devices, mobile technology and social media are increasing the volume and variety of customer data available at an accelerated rate, turning data brokering into a multibillion dollar business while simultaneously making data more affordable than ever. General information about consumers is now available for about $0.50 per 1,000 people, estimates the Financial Times. Read on for the trends that are transforming data collection and the tools that smart companies are using to turn data into profit.

Internet of Things

One of the biggest technology trends is the increasing presence of smart electronic devices, a trend known as the Internet of Things (IoT). Earlier stages of the Internet were centered around personal computers and then mobile phones, and now the Internet of Things includes all sorts of smart devices, from smart houses to smart TVs to smart cars, watches and clothes.

All these devices collect data that is centered around the consumers who use these devices. This enables businesses to organize their market research and advertising efforts around the totality of data as well as individual uses, a trend known as marketing personalization. The Internet of Things means that the data collected can conceivably be used to personalize ads they see in their car, at work and while shopping.

Location-Based Data

The Internet of Things forms a digital mesh that enables consumers and their data to be pinpointed by location. Smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy Note5 are GPS-enabled, allowing marketers to collect data on their location and deliver personalized messages that appeal to customers at specific locations.

One of the emerging applications of this is beacon marketing, which identifies when customers are entering stores to deliver customized coupons, discounts and other special offers. For instance, Hillshire Brands saw a 36 percent increase in brand awareness and a 20 percent increase in purchase intent by using beacon technology.

Context-Sensitive Data

Data collection is becoming more context-sensitive. For instance, a webpage that displays well on a desktop screen needs to adjust to be viewable on a smaller mobile device screen. This means that the site needs to collect context-sensitive data about the viewer’s device and screen size.

Another context-sensitive use of data is retargeted advertising, when information gathered on one device follows users as they use other devices. For instance, Yahoo recently added a feature to its Gemini ad marketplace that enables advertisers to send retargeted ads to customers on websites, apps and Yahoo interest categories based on their browsing behavior.

Social Media Data

One of the most important data collection sources is social media. CMS Wire reports that 90 percent of the data available today was collected over the past two years and 80 percent of it came from social media use.

Social sites are seeking to capitalize on this, with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google and YouTube all introducing buy button features last year. In 2016, social media brand engagement and buying will drive data collection, predicts Brandwatch.

 

About the Author

Roy Rasmussen, coauthor of Publishing for Publicity, is a freelance copywriter who helps small businesses get more customers and make more sales. His specialty is helping experts reach their target market with a focused sales message. His most recent projects include books on cloud computing, small business management, sales, business coaching, social media marketing, and career planning.

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SAP Hybris -Commerce / IOT / CRM Event 2016

After attending the SAP Hybris IOT/ CRM event, I was very impressed to see a vendor really connect the dots between commerce and customer service and customer experience. Commerce is really where the rubber meets the road. At the end of the day, if the customer experience is poor, customers will abandon shopping carts and revenue will suffer. But SAP Hybris is helping customers handle this. SAP Hybris is looking to become partners with brands in their digital transformation. They deliver  customer data management, context-driven marketing tools and unified commerce processes for all a brand’s channels.

  • SAP Hybris Commerce Solution: This solution helps brands to target and engage with your customers better, wherever they are. As the world of commerce continues to change, this can give customers a consistent and meaningful experience – across every channel, every time.  The core hybris solution ranks consistently among the top commerce software platforms worldwide. Their B2B and B2C commerce applications include an Omni-Channel Offering, Product Content Management (also known as Master Data Management or Product Information Management), Order Managementhybris Marketing Conversion, and powerful search and merchandising. And Hybris, at its core, is omni-channel. The commerce software helps integrate all digital and physical customer touchpoints onto a single platform – including online, mobile, point-of-sale, call center, social media and print. Regardless of your industry, SAP can help to create contextual, personalized and relevant customer experiences that boost loyalty and increase sales. Brands can kick-start their commerce project in just a few months through the hybris Commerce Accelerator. Omni-channel solutions are pre-configured for B2C and B2B, and for specific regions and industries.
  • SAP Hybris Marketing: This solution combines superior customer insight with a highly agile and scalable platform. Brands can reach their customers at all points of their journey, and boost loyalty by responding to real-time data to deliver the best possible customer experience. Note that traditional marketing campaigns can fall short at engaging the individual customer. They can lack the basic knowledge of customer’s wants and needs and blast indiscriminate messages to the masses. However, Hybris Marketing enables marketers to develop a deeper understanding of customers; i.e., to know what they have done, what they may do and most importantly what they are doing now. Brands can gain real-time insights into the context of each customer and leverage these insights to deliver highly individualized customer experiences across channels. Here are some of the benefits:
  1. Understand Real-Time Customer Intents. Dynamically capture and enrich customer profiles across all sources into a single view, leverage implicit customer signals to gain insights into customer’s real-time intents
  2. Deliver Unique Customer Experiences. Convert ‘in-the-moment’ opportunities to dynamically deliver contextually relevant customer experiences across channels. Create new engagements to increase online community participation and customer loyalty
  3. Market with Speed and Agility. Proactively react to customer opportunities with increased visibility and alignment of the marketing process, resources, and performance.
  • Products for Billing: SAP Hybris Billing helps brands to monetize their digital transformation and renovate their revenue management processes with a highly agile and scalable platform. SAP allows customers to build flexible pricing models to meet their B2C and B2B customer needs as well as share revenues with partners of their business network.

SAP /IOT: Devices of all types now communicate over the Internet, creating unprecedented potential for sales and service in the utilities industries. IoT items include smart home appliances, thermostats, meters and monitoring software, cars, alternate power devices, irrigation technology, fleet vehicles, store sensors, networked sensors, and software integrated with machinery. All of these support a new and diverse collection of customers and consumers: more aware, expecting individualized service, and a radically changing the supplier/customer relationship. The connectivity and communication abilities of devices of all sizes will vastly change every aspect of marketing, delivery, and support of utilities, as it has done with other industries. Countries, cities, and individual consumers are making significant changes in their consumption and usage of utility-related resources. Some of these include:

>> More reliable connectivity, increased data availability, and lower price points make virtually anything connectible

>> Every business must now consider itself a digital business, regardless what product or service is being sold

> Every business must own its data and make it available across the organization and to consumers

Businesses are preparing for a future where software becomes more important than hardware and data becomes more important than products. A new generation of consumer (the prosumer) is becoming an active partner in the production and distribution cycle. What are the benefits?

  • Better use of a utility’s products and services, making consumption and customer relations healthier
  • The opportunity to upsell and/or to offer upgrades for newer, better, and more effective products and services
  • Predictive service based on warnings, alarms, or analytics sent by the devices themselves
  • Tailored pricing – flexible entitlements based on usage, frequency or time, and metering
  • Wider range of services– extension into new service areas
  • Enables direct conversations between customer devices and business platforms
  • Analyzes large quantities of data in real-time against defined business KPIs
  • Lower regulatory risk and cost of compliance through increased visibility and response.

The event was a very important one in the history of SAP. These are key aspects to the digital transformation of any company and SAP’s ability to help their customers transform key aspects of their business are critical. This is certainly not your grandpas’ CRM.

@Drnatalie Petouhoff

Covering Customer Experience, Marketing, IOT and Digital Transformation.

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Capgemini Announces Expanded Collaboration with Amazon Web Services

Capgemini Is Helping Clients to Migrate Application on AWS. Capgemini announced that it is dedicating more global resources to help enterprise customers build and migrate applications on Amazon Web Services (AWS). As part of its extended cloud services program, which includes cloud advisory, migration and managed business services, ‘Capgemini Cloud Choice with Amazon Web Services’ will see Capgemini further invest in its dedicated migration factory, leverage AWS technology and develop sector-specific IP solutions hosted on AWS.

How Big is the Team? The Capgemini migration factory for AWS, in Chennai and Bangalore, will support customers’ migration of enterprise applications to the AWS Cloud. More than 1000 professionals are anticipated to be trained across India, the UK, the US, Netherlands and France by the end of 2016. The migration factory will use the AWS Cloud Adoption Framework (AWS CAF) planning tool as part of its methodology to enable enterprises to migrate workloads faster and more efficiently to the AWS Cloud. 

A Note From the Executives: Terry Wise, Vice President of Worldwide Partner Ecosystem, Amazon Web Services, Inc. said: “We are delighted to be working with Capgemini as they expand their commitment to AWS customers including a dedicated migration factory. With our respective strengths and methodologies, Capgemini and AWS help enterprise customers become more agile in building and migrating applications, thereby accelerating their transformation to the AWS Cloud.”
What Are the Key Goals Of Capgemni’s AWS? A key goal of Capgemini’s increased focus on AWS will be to develop cloud advisory, migration to AWS and managed offerings specifically for the financial services sector, based on Capgemini IP hosted on the AWS Cloud. One of the offerings already available in this area is Capgemini’s Insurance Connect , a fully managed business service insurance platform which enables core processing, digital services and insights and analytics on AWS. For insurers facing significant variance in workload demands, access to the highly scalable AWS Cloud provides a cost-effective way to integrate functions (such as CRM, policy administration and underwriting) and increase computing capacity on a pay-per-use basis with minimal upfront investment.

What Other Industries Will Benefit from Capgemni and AWS? Asset-intensive industries (such as energy and utilities) will also benefit from the extension of this working relationship, as Capgemini already provides its Digital Industrial Asset Lifecycle Management solution  as a managed business service built on AWS. This on-premises offering is now also available on the AWS Cloud and provides an environment which can be up and running in as little as fifteen minutes. It gives access to a scalable and fast–to-deploy digital asset hub, enabling organizations to advance their digital transformation journey, as well as an accelerated path for improved health and safety compliance, reduction of project costs and improvement of operational efficiency. 

SAP Customers:Customers looking to migrate their existing SAP® solutions to the cloud or to adopt SAP® S/4HANA will also greatly benefit from this expanded collaboration between Capgemini and AWS, with the ability to either get on the latest release of SAP solutions, optimize their workload on the cloud or consume through an integrated delivery model. Also, Capgemini’s SAP certified BAiO (Business All-in-One)  industry specific and Line of Business IP solutions are now available on SAP HANA, optimized to run on the AWS cloud and allowing customers in most industries to be up and running in as little as 6 weeks.

How Long Has the Capgemini and AWS Relationship Existed? Capgemini shares a longstanding relationship with AWS which dates back to 2008, with both parties working to bring business solutions to enterprise customers leveraging Capgemini’s industry expertise coupled with AWS’s technology such as Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) and Amazon Redshift. Examples of past innovations include Capgemini’s SAP OnePath and COMPLETE. Capgemini is a Premier Consulting Partner in the AWS Partner Network (APN).

Capgemini’s increased focus on AWS is an essential component of Capgemini’s Cloud Services program, ‘Cloud Choice’, enabled through collaboration with a broad ecosystem of cloud partners, and includes a range of services: Business Cloud Assessment and Strategy, proof of concepts, migrating applications to the Cloud, Platform as a Service, Infrastructure as a Service, Business Process as a Service and Cybersecurity. 

Want more details on the journey? A Note From The Executives: Franck Greverie, Capgemini’s Global Leader for Cloud Services adds: “The continued execution of our client-centric strategy demands even more targeted solutions and responses for our clients’ most challenging business demands. Cloud Choice with Amazon Web Services combines the strength of Capgemini’s Cloud Services global capabilities and delivery assets with the on-going technology innovation from AWS to continue to develop and deliver the right cloud solutions to our collective clients with speed, predictability, risk mitigation and sustainable business impact.” Click on this video link where Lanny Cohen, Group CTO shares his thoughts on the collaborative opportunities and the history of Capgemini’s seven-year alliance with AWS.

What Does This Mean To You Brand? Many companies are starting to realize the benefits of migrating their systems to the cloud. The question is how to get there. With this partnership, companies can be guided to move to the cloud. Where are you on your cloud Journey?

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research
Covering Cloud and IoT That Drive Better Business Results and Awesome Customer Experiences
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DialogTech launches SourceTrak 3.0, reinvents call tracking for digital marketers

New Call Tracking For Digital Marketing – Well if you thought the only people who cared about phone calls to brand were people in the contact center, then you may be surprised by DialogTech’s new solution.  Actually its not that surprising me – considering a good 30-50% of calls to a contact center are marketing related – like which size would be better for me, or what are the measurements of the “box” or is the delivery date different than the ship date. These are all questions that would lead someone to “buy” something or not. However, often times those “marketing” type calls go to the contact center. The contact center rarely gets credit for answering lead conversion calls, but many of them do it all the time. Now to the announcement…

DialogTech, who provides of a most comprehensive, end-to-end call attribution and conversion platform for data-driven marketers, announced a breakthrough in call tracking for digital marketing with the release of SourceTrak 3.0. Nearly two years in the making, SourceTrak 3.0 enables the world’s largest organizations to realize the full benefits of call tracking for digital marketing, without the traditional limitations.

What is Included In This New Call Tracking for Digital Marketing?

According to eMarketer, 62.6 percent of digital ad spending in the U.S. this year will target smartphones and mobile devices. As a result, these ads will drive 162 billion calls to businesses by 2019, according to analyst firm BIA/Kelsey. So what is important is to know which programs generate the most calls (and customers) – because its a necessary step to measure and optimize digital marketing performance.

DialogTech’s newly re-architected and enhanced SourceTrak 3.0 technology solution is designed to meet the data, affordability, reliability and ease-of-implementation requirements of Fortune 1000 companies, large multi-location organizations and the marketing agencies they work with.

Enterprise marketing teams and agencies already analyze and optimize the customer journey for the search keywords, digital ads and website interactions that generate online engagement. DialogTech’s SourceTrak 3.0 enables them to do the same for offline phone call conversions. The call data appears alongside the online data in the marketing solutions they already use and requires no change to current processes and causes no disruption to digital ads or website performance.

What is Included In This New Call Tracking for Digital Marketing?

  • Full Attribution For Every Phone Number on a Website – Provides complete call attribution data – including the search keywords, digital ads, referring websites and webpages that drove the call – for every call from every phone number displayed on a website, including every number shown in “Find a Dealer” and “Find an Agent” webpages consumers use to locate and call their closest location or agent.
  • Keyword Attribution for Every Call From Google AdWords – Whether a call comes from a “Call” button in a Google search ad or from a searcher who clicks through to a website, SourceTrak 3.0 captures complete keyword, session and caller data for every call. That call attribution data, as well as any revenue generated from the call, can be imported directly into Google AdWords alongside online data for a complete and accurate analysis of search advertising ROI.
  • Accurate, Spam-Free Call Data – SourceTrak 3.0 call attribution data is now protected by SpamSentry™ technology, which prevents spam calls from distorting marketing data and frustrating sales agents.
  • Fast, Seamless Implementation – SourceTrak 3.0 enables marketing teams and agencies to implement call tracking on any website in a few clicks without any help from IT, any negative impact on website performance or SEO ranking or any disruption to existing digital ads.
  • Affordability – Only SourceTrak 3.0 has heartbeat technology that enables businesses to capture complete call attribution with the fewest phone numbers – and lowest cost – of any call tracking provider.

SourceTrak 3.0 technology is available as part of the DialogTech Voice360® platform, which also includes an integrated suite of marketing solutions for caller qualification and scoring, contextual call routing and management, conversation analytics and spam call blocking. All SourceTrak 3.0 features are backwards compatible with SourceTrak 2.0, and all SourceTrak 2.0 users have automatic access to the new functionality.

For more information on how to get started today, contact DialogTech at DialogTech.com.

If you are part of a contact center, how many of your calls are marketing oriented vs “help me fix this” type calls? Should Marketing pay for some of the contact center costs if a percentage of the calls are lead conversion related? These are the questions we will be asking ourselves as we see Marketing, Sales and Customer Service converge into commerce.

@drNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research, Covering Customer Facing Applications.

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